So you didn’t think there was any upside to Washington State

being the Officer Barbrady of


football these last couple of


Wrong, scandal-breath.

At least when there isn’t a whiff of NFL talent on your team,

the likelihood plummets that a parasite will come slinking around

to lay a little bread on a player as earnest money now toward being

his agent later. Which means envious teammates won’t be cadging

similar handouts. Then when he’s disgraced and eyeing a book deal

15 years later, the ickball won’t re-emerge from the ooze to tell

all – and maybe embellish a good bit – to a national magazine,

dragging your school through the sleaze.

See? Isn’t all this losing worth it?


Well, suit yourself.

But if the Cougs ever truly make it back to competitive, some of

their guys are going to be bankable in the eyes of subspecies we’ll

call A Piece of the Action. And those fellows care not a whit about

antediluvian morality, the NCAA, its bloated rulebook or any

probation noogies.

They care about a percentage.

Of course, many of the players feel the same way.

We know this because a couple of weeks back, the NCAA suspended

13 North Carolina

football players for doing business

too early with an agent who purportedly employed a Tar Heels

assistant coach as his wrangler. Before that, former USC running

back Reggie Bush returned his Heisman after the Trojans were put on

probation largely for goodies his family received from prospective


Surely he wasn’t the only Trojan taking money; just the only one

who burned someone and thus got ratted out to the NCAA.

And speaking of rats, now we have Josh Luchs, recently

excommunicated from NFL agenthood, baring his shady past for Sports

Illustrated – naming more than 30 players who he says took money

from him before their

college eligibility was exhausted.

Five of those names were once stitched across the backs of crimson

jerseys at WSU.

Three of them – Torey Hunter, Singor Mobley and John Rushing –

helped the Cougs to two bowl games in the early 1990s. Mobley

confirmed Luchs’ account to SI. Rushing declined comment. Hunter,

the only one drafted and now an assistant coach at Eastern

Washington, denied (see accompanying story) that he took so much as

a dollar – though he knew teammates who did.

Luchs also said he had Ryan Leaf, who quarterbacked the Cougs to

their first Rose Bowl in 67 years, on a monthly dole that Leaf,

after signing with a different agent, eventually paid back with

$10,000 in cash. Leaf has already copped to years of childish, rude

and even criminal behavior recently in an earnest effort to

rehabilitate himself and his image; for some reason, he would only

acknowledge knowing Luchs. Maybe he understands the cockeyed mania

that can forgive prescription drug abuse, but not defiling the

chastity of



Oh, and in an extra-classy move, Luchs said his payroll also

included Leon Bender, who is no longer alive to defend himself.

This man must bathe in 30-weight.

Enough players have confirmed Luchs’ story that we can believe

some of it – but so what? Current events revealed as much. Do we

care about 15-year-old dirt because it was dished here? Heck, we

laugh now about Hugh McElhenny’s oft-told tale that he took a pay

cut to go from the

University of Washington to the NFL

a half century ago. There is an NCAA statute of limitations that

figures to derail any sanctions against the Cougars or other

vulnerable schools – not unlike bogus instant replay rules that

exist to “get the calls right,” but only in limited quantity.

But it’s clear that what Jose Canseco is to the culture of

Getting Juiced, Luchs aspires to be in the culture of Getting Paid

– and already there are corners proclaiming this story a

“blockbuster.” Except all it will do is get a few preening senators

to float some get-tough-with-agents legislation for their

re-election profile, and it hardly takes a blockbuster to do


A blockbuster would change the landscape, and this won’t. The

old British amateur ideal died its deserved death in golf, tennis

and, finally, the Olympic Games. It survives only in American

college athletics, as

universities sold themselves to

become the minor leagues for the NFL and NBA. Now, not just the

entertainment divisions of those institutions, but the academic

sides as well, get fat on the sweat and broken bones of young men,

who receive a

college education – not an

inconsiderable return, until it’s contrasted against the obscene

salaries of their coaches and the billions reaped in TV


The sad fact is, Josh Luchs was more up front about his endeavor

than the schools are. That’s hardly a flattering comparison.

<b>TYPE:</b> Column